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When people think of papier maché, they often think of a piece with a slick, glossy finish. But a finish like that demands some very fine, and usually labor-intensive, finishing. Any imperfections in the form of creases or roughness stand out, and can mar the look of the finished piece. This can discourage many people from working in papier maché, especially beginners.
A surface treatment that wouldn’t require a perfectly smooth finish could be easier to do. The first two that come to mind are rougher finishes and patterned finished, both of which would disguise many imperfections.
But papier maché can have any kind of finish that you can dream up. If you can visualize something, there is usually a way to make it happen.
Look at the world around you, and imagine some of those materials and finishes on a papier maché form of your own creation. Consider some of these to start:
· Plastered finish, smooth, showing application strokes, or with patterns embedded in the partly-dried finish made with a pencil point or eraser ends, sticks or hand tools. You can get the same effect by adding calcium carbonate (aka ground chalk, whiting,
· Furry finish using a thick paint with a fork or pointed skewer dragged through it to indicate hair; or hair clippings, yarn, fibers such as string, thread, coconut husk, plant fibers, raveled sisal/jute, cotton, flax, hemp, wool, ramie or synthetic fibers, applied overlapping starting from the tail end or the bottom.
· Apply paint or glue, and stick on dryer lint or dust bunnies. (Make a PM rabbit and cover it with dust bunnies for a REAL dust bunny?)
· Get a crackle effect with white glue and two colors of acrylic paint.
· Patches of fabric applied in patchwork form, or with raveled edges exposed.
· Apply small pieces of paper like fish scales, maybe leaving the outer edge loose.
· Dry, powdery finish, dusted with dry clay (such as dry terra cotta), gysum, dry tempera paint, or sand.
· Rough or casual finish with patches of a fine, smooth finish.
· Apply a thin coating of air-dry clay, and then impress patterns into it while it’s still soft.
· Stone-like finish with fine sand mixed into the paint, in a solid color, streaked or daubed
· Mosaic finish, using paper, glass, beads, stones, egg shells, etc
· Mottled using artist pastel sticks.
· Metallic paints, such as a color group (blues, purples) with highlights of metallic silver or gold.
· Several colors of matte (flat) paints, daubed on in patches.
· Spatter-painted over a base color.
· Designs applied with a pen or colored pencils.
· A dry, rough finish like rust, covered completely or just in spots.
· Small items like split peas glued randomly, in clusters or in a design, with a thick or thin paint over them.
· Applied feathers.
· Collage; consider a theme, like sheet music, wrapping paper flowers, butterflies, bugs, etc.
· Lace, felt, metallic threads.
· Attached pieces of jewelry, cemented in place or dangling from eyepins.
· Patches of leather or pseudo-leather, marked like it’s stitched together.
· Tacks with multiple colors or decorative heads (make your own designs?)
· Fabric and buttons, maybe even a zipper!
· Pieces of dried seaweed or twigs.
· Loose pine needles, or bundles of them.
· 3-D attachments like fabric flowers, ceramic or PM creatures, shells, barnacles, small starfish
· Overlapping flat shapes like fish scales, maybe colorful magazine paper, thin plastics, or small sturdy leaves?
· If you’re familiar with concrete, coat it with that (waterproof it first) using natural (grey), white, or colored. Embed metal, beads or glass into the concrete.
· Use stencils.
· Appliqued designs.
· Applied thin ceramic or metal pieces.
· Antiqued or distressed finish
You’re only limited by your imagination!